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Sustainable leadership and future‐oriented decision making in the educational governance – a Finnish case

Jari Metsämuuronen (Faculty of Behavioral Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)
Tuomo Kuosa (AlternativeFutures/YATTA, Helsinki, Finland)
Reijo Laukkanen (University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 10 May 2013




During the new millennium the Finnish educational system has faced a new challenge: how to explain glorious PISA results produced with only a small variance between schools, average national costs and, as regards the average duration of studies, relatively efficiently. Explanations for this issue can be searched for in many different ways. The purpose of the article is to show what kind of sustainable leadership in the educational governance can be seen behind the high level results in Finland.


The future‐oriented actions are discussed in the article alongside some relevant cultural prerequisites that have enabled effective changing processes. Finally, two cases of recent future‐oriented actions in the Finnish educational governance are given as examples.


Sustainable leadership can be seen as a long series of several future‐oriented decisions and actions, such as uniforming the system, offering highly demanding education to all, strategic decisions concerning the information society, as well as some other great political decisions concerning education.

Research limitations/implications

It may not be easy to reproduce the same high‐level results as in Finland in any other country. However, several developing countries could benefit from the future‐oriented ethos of Finland.

Practical implications

This article gives hints what kinds of future‐oriented actions can be launched at a national level.

Social Implications

Future orientation leads to long‐term policies in education. This enables long‐term development in the educational sector which may enhance the social cohesion in the societies.


Though the Finnish experiences may be unique in the international settings, the future‐orientation is of uttermost importance when wanting to develop the educational systems in any country. Hence the results may give a valuable insight to understand a successful case of educational governance.



Metsämuuronen, J., Kuosa, T. and Laukkanen, R. (2013), "Sustainable leadership and future‐oriented decision making in the educational governance – a Finnish case", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 402-424.



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